CHANCE luncheon raises $310,000 for scholarships

During the first of two June visits to his hometown, Cardinal Blase J. Cupich of Chicago praised school choice as one way to battle poverty.

Addressing about 700 people at the annual CHANCE Luncheon of the Children’s Scholarship Fund (CSF) June 7 at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Cardinal Cupich said empowering low-income parents to choose the best school for their children heightens a sense of responsibility in all aspects of child-rearing, and it helps children feel they have worth.

The luncheon raised about $310,000 for scholarships to parochial and other private elementary schools. And Cardinal Cupich, who grew up in Ss. Peter and Paul Parish and School in Omaha, served as a priest in the archdiocese and returned to Omaha June 29 to help the parish celebrate its 100th anniversary, noted the important role CSF fills in helping low-income parents select the best educational setting for their children.

"By providing families with K-8 scholarships, you are not only helping parents grow in self-awareness and self-esteem, you are preparing an entire generation to do the same," Cardinal Cupich said.

During the luncheon, five students from Catholic schools were recognized, including four with Rising Star awards for leadership, character and overcoming personal and academic obstacles: sixth-grader Patricia Boules of All Saints Catholic School and second-grader K’Yani Jones-Brown of Sacred Heart School, both in Omaha, and eighth-graders Hector Gonzalez of St. Michael School in South Sioux City and Alexandra Hezel of St. Columbkille School in Papillion.

The Inspiring Alumni Award went to Samantha Contreras, a former CSF scholarship recipient and graduate of Ss. Peter and Paul who now is a sophomore at Omaha South High School.

Since 1999, CSF has provided more than 31,000 partial-tuition scholarships worth more than $31 million to kindergarten through eighth-grade students.

During the past school year, nearly 1,800 students received $2.7 million in scholarships.

CSF scholarships are renewable through eighth grade, as long as the student maintains a 90 percent attendance rate. Younger siblings also may qualify for scholarships, as long as families continue to meet eligibility requirements.

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